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RFP’s Out

Retired and empty, two public icons from an earlier era in the town’s history stand across from each other on Lancaster Road. Now, both town-owned structures are up for sale.

The old Hazen Memorial Library, with its gothic, brownstone façade, was vacated when a new, modern facility was constructed off Front Street in a municipal enclave that also hosts the police station and the Town Offices.

The old Municipal Building, a repurposed red brick schoolhouse that in recent years was rented out to a children’s museum, was replaced by the new Town Offices building next door to the new library.

Seeking to put the two handsome old buildings to new and appropriate uses and hopefully add them to the tax rolls, the town has placed both properties on the market and sent out separate but similar requests for proposals.

Earlier this month, Chief Administrative Officer Dave Berry asked selectmen to authorize sending out the second RFP. He said it was almost a mirror image of the first, which officially put the old municipal building on the market a few weeks ago.

The selectmen approved the release of the RFP, with one caveat: That Berry talks to the Historic Commission about adding language to preserve the old library’s façade.

Beaver troubles

Beaver dams are causing property damage in town again. This time, the trouble site is Horse Pond Road. At their recent meeting, selectmen agreed to tackle the situation before it gets worse.

The DPW has been clearing blocked culverts, Chairman Dave Swain said, but the problem now is that back-up caused by the beaver dam on Horse Pond Road goes “further back” onto private property, posing a risk to wells and septic systems.

CAO Dave Berry suggested meeting with the Board of Health to frame a plan. The BOH may issue an emergency order, as it has done before so the beavers can be trapped and the dam dismantled.

Damaged culvert

A culvert on Walker Road that was damaged in the Halloween snowstorm must be repaired or replaced, Berry told the board. The cost estimate is $2,200, plus labor, he said. “Hopefully, it can wait until spring,” he said, when the town may get funds from MEMA or FEMA, the state and federal emergency management agencies. :”We put in for reimbursement,” Berry said.

Hacked again

Not for the first time, hackers invaded the Town of Shirley website, Berry told selectmen last Monday night. It was subsequently shut down. It’s a free site and a rickety vehicle anyway, resistant to input and therefore prone to be out of date or incomplete.

“You get what you pay for,” Berry lamented.

But the town is looking at an upgraded replacement: “Virtual Town Hall,” a perk-packed site that specializes in municipalities and has several satisfied customers in the area.

For a $4,000 one-time fee and $2,500 annually, the town gets a package that includes staff training and an array of user-friendly features geared to municipal needs, Berry said.

The new Web site could be up and running soon, he said.

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